Mental Health Awareness Week is run by the Mental Health Foundation, and aims to raise awareness of mental health and inspire action. This year, the theme is kindness, because kindness and mental health are deeply connected

Kindness is an antidote to isolation and creates a sense of belonging. It helps reduce stress, brings a fresh perspective and deepens friendships.

- Mental Health Foundation (2020)

This is much like our connection with nature, which helps to take our minds away from our concerns and helps us to relax. 

Spending time in the natural environment – as a resident or a visitor – improves our mental health and feelings of well-being.

- ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’ (HM Government 2018)

How we work to improve nature-connectedness

In our work promoting mental health and wellbeing, we follow the 6 stages of wellbeing below, providing a range of nature-based activities you can get involved in to be kind to yourself and others, as well as to the planet. 

Image credit: Wheel of Wellbeing - South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Our Wellbeing Programme is at the forefront of this, providing nature-based activities for people struggling with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, low mood and stress. Participants get involved in conservation work, wildlife walks and nature-based crafts to improve their mental and physical wellbeing. During lockdown, this has continued in the form of nature-themed newsletters to participants, including wildlife quizzes, facts and regular updates, which can be viewed here.

Melanie Vincent, our Wellbeing Project Officer, has written some useful tips on how we can all maintain our wellbeing and connectivity to nature during lockdown, following these 6 steps.

Our Milestones Project also aims to improve the mental health of young people, by keeping them connected to the natural world whilst we are confined to our homes and gardens through their Wildlife Weekly tips:

Sitting quietly, listening to the soothing sounds of nearby trees, birds, and rustling grasses calms us and deepens our appreciation for the life around us.

- Wildlife Weekly wellbeing tip number 6.

Christine Crookall-Fallon has provided a further 10 tips on how young people in particular can connect with nature

Our work to improve nature-connectedness doesn't stop there. Lakeside Care Farm nurtures and supports vulnerable young people to develop their skills and confidence in themselves through the therapeutic use of farming practices.

Thank you for Lee's first afternoon with you today. It was just amazing to arrive and see a look of sheer pleasure and a massive smile on Lee’s face today! I have not seen such genuine happiness from Lee in such a long time.

- (Parent)

How you can get involved

If you'd like to continue being connected to nature at home, this year our annual 30 Days Wild challenge has gone digital! Challenge yourself to do one wild thing a day in June, from watching a bee from your window to feeding the birds in your garden, this daily contact with nature is proven to reduce stress, improve concentration and reduce levels of depression. 

Be kind to yourself and give it a go! 

Further support

If you're worried about your mental health during this time, there are others out there who can provide information and support: